It's hard to believe, but yet another year of vet school has come to a close, like a bear trap on the leg of an unsuspecting hiker. All told, the second year curriculum is as difficult as the first but for different reasons. Where the first year of vet school grabs you by the hair and tosses you without warning into the deep end and then provides a ramp to climb out to the shallows, the second year just begins to cudgel you over the head in the third week and never really stops. That is to say, our first test of Sophomore year was during the third week of school, and every consecutive week featured a number of no less than 2 and no more than 4 tests all the way up to the end of the semester. Never before have I realized that holiday breaks are not only convenient and pleasant, but necessary for mental health. Never before has the word "real world" been so forcibly burned into my mind. What else do you call it when you finally get a few days off and your festal plans turn not to a night on the town and a keg party, but to grocery shopping, laundry, and an 8 hour night of sleep? Truly, these are the things that sophomore year takes from you.
On the other hand, it gave back plenty. Teetering on the cusp of the junior year, we watched the Class of 2010 plunge into that great abyss of clinical rotations with barely a whisper, and in that dark pool we began to see ourselves. Even as we were being loaded down with classwork and tests, the patterns begin to emerge that point to the fact that yes, truly, by this time next year we will be practicing medicine. Thrown in to this mix is the sense of camaraderie that can be born only of shared pain, fears, and joys. We lost 6 people in the first year, and opened our arms to 6 new students who transferred in. They brought different education styles, spouses, children, new traditions and an amazing array of humor and fun that can only be viewed as a blessing for the class as a whole. For each class that seemed irrelevant or painful, we had an opportunity to participate in newer and more hands-on classes. We gave our first drugs, did our first surgeries, and made the ultimate sacrifice. From this point, things will only become more real.
The point is, after a year of mental hardship it's easy to wax poetic. The worst is over and by this time next year, we will be running the hospitals and learning what it means to truly be a veterinarian.
The only person legally allowed to diagnose a behavior problem and create and implement a behavioral modification program for an animal is a veterinarian. Any non-veterinarian that diagnoses behavior problems and creates and implements behavioral modification programs for an animal is practicing veterinary medicine without a license. Thus, "Cesar's Way" is a poor choice for a Christmas gift for a veterinary behaviorist.
- The question "Are cats social animals" is answered with a resounding "yes". They rub each other, groom each other, and spend hours a day lounging in each others company. The question "Why are you spending time and research money investigating the social order of a group of invasive species whom no one is adequately caring for in urban or rural settings" has yet to be satisfactorily addressed.
- Many of the treatments for Cushing's Disease rely mainly on drugs that should logically affect all portions of an organ or enzyme pathway but inexplicably do not. Therefore, it may as well be stated that your hyperadrenocorticism has been cured by magic, rather than science.
- The efficacy of penicillins and cephalosporins can be increased by adding clavulanic acid or other b-lactam mimicking compounds, to block the actions of b-lactamases produced by microbes.
- The ultraviolet Woods lamp often used as a test for dermatophytosis in veterinary clinics only identifies about 50% of infections of only one type of dermatophyte.
- Furunculosis is the swelling, bursting, and subsequent inflammatory reaction of a hair follicle. Takes second place to "pedunculated" on the cool words for the year list.
- Anything is more scientific if presented with a graph. Even if that graph is two lines with absolutely no numbers. This method is also used in Behavior.
- Farmers are an earthy, rustic folk. This is reflected in their down-home language and inability to name anything creatively. See: Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the eyelid in Hereford cows ("Cancer Eye"), escape doors made to be kicked out in case of a fire ("Kick-out Doors"), etc.
- There is no good way to learn about cancer. All you will be able to think about is all your personal research.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis causes a fibrinoserous exudate into the peritoneal cavity, which resembles nothing so much as your cat filled with grainy chicken broth.
- Overo paint horses are prone to throwing a recessive all white foal with blue eyes-- a beautiful foal that will live for only a few hours due to epic failure of organ systems including the heart and GI system, which never form nerve signals allowing them to properly contract their smooth muscle. Testing for the recessive gene costs only $50.
- Humans throughout the southeast are most likely to be exposed to rabies virus by a raccoon, but are more likely to actually contract a case through contact with bats. Only one person who has contracted rabies and not undergone treatment has managed to live.
- Food should be maintained at a temperature of either below 4.4 degreesC or above 60 degrees C if it is going to be stored. If it falls in between this range, it is only good for about 4 hours and then should be disposed of as a potential biological weapon of mass destruction.
- The current method of de-worming horses, sheep, and goats is absolutely, categorically, and catastrophically wrong. Resistance is commonplace and new protocols as well as new methodologies must be determined in order to provide solutions in the future.
- Large animals have a lot of problems, none of which you will learn about until next year. Enjoy your independent study time.
- Mycoplasma, a disease that causes upper respiratory and ocular infection, is spread among finches and other passerines via contact -- such as contact with your dirty, nasty, germy feeder.
- The diseases of captivity are generally nothing like the diseases of wild populations, and are almost always related to management.
- If you grab a stuffed mock fetal calf by its velcro-attached front limb and attempt to mimic proper traction during dystocia, you are likely to end up with a batting-stuffed leg and your whole class will laugh at your accidental fetotomy.
- When placed in an outdoor enclosure, piglets will run around and around a dirt pen until they create a nice flat area in the middle for sleeping and an outer rim of excrement that they do not have to interact with.
- Ophthamology is spelled with 2 H's. Not just one. This is worth at least 2 points on your exam.
- Horses are prone to fungal keratitis of the cornea, which will lead to an ulcer that can progress from normal-looking eyeball to a melted-off cornea in under 48 hours.
- Amyloid deposits in the glomerulus will rob the kidney of its ability to function and pets will slowly leak plasma proteins until they are a ghost of their former selves. When stained with Congo red the amyloid shows a nice birefringent apple green color.
- Providing lecture, notes, slide sessions, hands-on laboratory time and examples, and self-directed online lessons covers every learning style and makes this the easiest class to study for, period.
- The Pathology department will find any pictures of you on the internet and make fun of them. For some reason, when the women of Systemic Path do this, it is funny. When the men of clinical pathology do this, it is creepy.
- Red maple leaves, when ingested by horses, will induce a hemolytic crisis characterized by a lot of words you can use to sound incredibly professional.
- Acepromazine should not be used in stallions, as there is a risk of priapism associated with its use for anesthesia.
- Aseptic technique is absolutely essential to avoid post-operative complications. Scrubbing technique involves washing each digit of each hand and the arm all the way up to the elbow, for at least 5 minutes total contact time. Counting or singing can help pass the time.
- The Connell and Cushing pattern are both methods of inverting closure that can be used in order to help seal the gastrointestinal tract or lumenal organs. The only difference between them is that the Connell enters the lumen and the Cushing does not.
- When properly placed in the fascia of the external rectus muscle, the sutures closing a celiotomy should be close enough together that your instructor may be able to come by and attempt to lift the animal off the table by your closure. This isn't actually nearly as close as you'd think.
- Pigs are prone to laryngeal spasms and lidocaine can be used to calm the muscles long enough to place an endotracheal tube.
- Cryptococcosis is the only fungal or other respiratory pathogen that can be diagnosed from mucoid samples from the nose. The yeast form has a large mucoid capsule around it, forming the characteristic lesion appearance.
- Other countries come to the United States, specifically Athens,Georgia, en route to New Jersey, to study our methods of studying Avian Influenza. We are that cool.
- If you believe the internet, veterinarians and Merck are gouging millions of dollars from good pet owners by not telling clients to buy antibiotics and anthelmintics offline and improperly dosing their animals with it. SHAME!
Lessons learned outside the classroom:
- It only takes about 5 months to plan a wedding, if you put your mind to it.
- No matter how many times you see a football player in a dorm or downtown, he won't listen to your silent prayers that he remain with the team just one more year.
- Pigs are awful animals. Drunk pigs are adorable for a little while. Lining up three drunk pigs, watching them sway side to side, and then watching one sneeze and knock all three over is pretty much the only reason to go back to class.
- A lost pet is always a crisis.
- In times of severe distress, a classmate will respond to your email and tell you they hope you find your missing pet. A great classmate will put on their necropsy boots and walk up and down a creek calling for your dog. We have great classmates.
- The summer after your sophomore year is the last one truly your own -- the best thing you can do is run away with it.
- No one will understand how painful your schedule is and how truly taxing constant studying is but your classmates. Let them buy you the beers at the end of the week.
- No one reads their emails completely. No one. Ever. Even if you capitalize all the important parts and put PLEASE READ CAREFULLY in the subject line. Use this knowledge to calm yourself when an email you sent out is ignored, blatantly disregarded, or publicly declaimed despite your email having actually answered every question that person has.
- If one of your professors walks in and says you are the worst class in the history of his tenure teaching per test grades, it's a bummer. If two professors say it, it is like kicking a puppy.
- 12:30 p.m. after finals is the best time to go to a pub downtown with your classmates.
- If the only thing your non-native, ESL, poorly informed argumentative chartered bus driver who fails to ensure basic amenities such as working bathrooms and fire extinguishers does correctly on your hell-trip through the Great Smokey Mountains en route to a conference in Ohio is steer the bus he burned the brakes off of into the side of said mountain to prevent you from careening over the side of a 70 degree incline and landing in a river, thereby saving the lives of you and your 20 plus classmates that he himself endangered, he still did something right. Make cocktails on the scenic overpass to celebrate.
- F--- Ohio State.
- Sometimes, helping out your classmates with a project that no one else will man up and do, such as distributing free heartworm products to the entire school, just isn't worth it. Side note: No matter how free things are, people will find a way to bitch about it.
- Twilight spoofs are funny. Twilight spoofs where the main protagonist is a kid with a thick southern drawl who morphs into a Pomeranian are hilarious.
- Never discuss your surgery lab or any other aspect of veterinary medicine education with a charitable contributor to your school, or you'll end up skewered in front of God and everybody for getting a good education.
- No one should ever have to find out that their classmate has died through an email. No one should ever have to find out that a classmate has died. There aren't words to put the feeling in to scope.
Thus, our second year comes to a close. We have lost a great member of our class and our lives, who lives on through us and the work that we do. He is with us in our hearts and our minds. He will never, ever be forgotten and his contribution to our profession and our community will be honored, always. All we can do now is try to live to our fullest potential -- just like he would have wanted us to do.